Ciaran Watkins – Hard Earned? Hardly.

Posted on April 19, 2011 by


There’s a new Strongbow telly ad making the rounds, and it continues the ‘hard earned’ campaign that’s been running for a good few years now. The campaign is quite well known, and has had a few belters in it’s time. The most recent advert in the series however, is a let down. Let’s take a look.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with the advert itself. I’m just not too keen. It’s a mixture of things really.

Firstly, this may sound a bit silly, but I really hate the fake ‘gruff’ voice the guy in the van uses. Of course it’s supposed to lend an American action movie feel to the ad, making the somewhat banal task of carrying a sofa up a few flights of stairs seem more exciting, but it ends up changing the entire tone of the advert. What’s worse is that the forced accent sounds suspiciously similar to this famed and ‘funny’ voice over.

I mentioned fleetingly that the tone of the advert has changed, and I stand by my accusation. For me, the ‘Hard Earned’ campaign has been all about celebrating ‘the best’ of British, and presenting them with (the most disgusting) pint of cider. While I don’t actually like the brand Strongbow, I grew to love these playfully British adverts. The problem with the new ad, is that it’s over Americanised. The flashy special effects most reminiscent of movies like The Bourne Trilogy don’t lend themselves well to the ongoing, overly British ‘Hard Earned’ campaign.

One last niggle when watching the new ad, is that it ends on a downer. The entire premise of the stare, sip, ‘ahhhh’ pay off, was just that; it was a pay off! It was a reward for doing a good job. It was the light at the end of a seemingly unending tunnel. The phone call from the lady moaning about the stripes on her sofa takes the enjoyment of a job well done away from the three removal men. The equilibrium of the advert is left at an imbalance. To solve this we’d have to let the ad continue. If it were to continue, the men would have to leave their pints of Strongbow, go back upstairs, cart the sofa back down the stairs, and reload it into the van. Only then would equilibrium be restored, and they could finally enjoy their pint of Streezybees. It doesn’t lend itself well to ‘Hard Earned’, because the drinks haven’t been hard earned yet. There’s still work to do!

Now while that may be a small gripe at an otherwise okay advert, you have to remember this isn’t a new campaign. This is an already existing campaign, with many fantastic adverts under it’s belt. My favourite from the series has to be the following.

This ad makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s the perfect mixture of pomp, off kilter British humour, and absolutely fantastic scripting. The copy writer who managed that script should be given a raise. Unlike the newest advert, these men have already earned their Strongbow, and they’re being presented with the drink in front of adoring fans. It turns the process of having a pint at the end of a day into a ceremony. While in real life the crowd may or may not be there, in the drinker’s head they get to feel appreciated. It’s celebrating the jobs that sometimes go unnoticed. The satellite installation man, the pork pie fillers, and the street cleaners. Jobs most people would hate to have, but without these workers, the world would stop. That’s what makes it a cracking advert, and that’s what makes the new one fall a little flat.

The creatives in charge need to make sure that the people in the new series of ads are actually worthy. Worthy of drinking a pint of Strongbow. A pint that should be saved for the hardest of hard workers. Now the next ad could be a follow up in which the three removal men knit their own sofa covers of out beer mats, but I highly doubt it. Until then, I’ll stick with the pomp and ceremony.

Read more over at Whatever’s In There, Falls Out Here.

Posted in: Ciaran Watkins